Turning Universal Woman into Universal Martini, or Happy Hour Courtesy of Illustrator’s Transform Ef

My dear dekeOphiles, it’s Friday. And to celebrate a week of posts dedicated to creating universal symbols in Illustrator, I’ve decided to turn Wednesday’s Universal Woman into a Universal Martini (which happens to be the universal symbol for finding a place to spend Happy Hour). Just as we created a woman from a man, so too will we create a martini from a woman. It’s the circle of life.

At this point, if you’ve followed this week’s other tutorials (or watched this week’s Deke’s Techniques episodes), you have an inkling of how powerful, and frankly—entertaining—Illustrator’s Transform Effect can be for creating these pared-down symbols of importance. I actually came up with this project as I was writing the Universal Woman tutorial. Or, at least, as I was thinking about writing it while on a plane. Which may have something to do with my thinking of cocktails at the time. Which—in turn—may have something to do with why I was only thinking about writing, and not actually writing it.

But the point, if I have one, is that spending a week doing hands-on projects with the Transform Effect has not only made me uncharacteristically confident with Illustrator (or at least one feature of Illustrator), but it’s also awakened that part of my brain that sees things with a creative, open mind. That may be even more important than actually having handy universal symbols for anything.

So, for both your Happy Hour and your Creative Spirit needs, here are the steps:

1) Turn off the girl parts you don’t need.

Just as when we turned Man into Woman, turning Woman into Martini starts with turning off the stroke effects we don’t need in the Appearance panel. The martini glass only needs four components, those that started out life as the head, shoulders, body, and right leg of our girl. Here’s a visual reminder of which strokes those are. (If this is your first visit this week and you don’t feel like going through the first two tutorials, I’ll leave an in-progress file at the bottom of the post. Also, yes, I’m going to ask Adobe about the ability to label these things in real life.)

2) Turn her leg into the stem of the glass.

Twirl open the 28-point stroke that represents her remaining leg, and click Transform. Set the Horizontal Move to 0 points so that it’s centered to become the stem of the glass. Click OK.

3) Turn her shoulders into the base of the glass.

The 59.5-point shoulder stroke (that has posed as both manly shoulders and giant breasts this week) becomes the base of the glass by reducing the stroke to 24 points, the Vertical Scale to 66 percent, and the Vertical Move to 140 points. (If vertical values seem backward it’s because we’re working with a 90-degree Rotation Angle, not because you’ve already had too many martinis.) Click OK.

4) Flip her skirt upside down to make a goblet.

Speaking of too many martinis, try not to imagine our girl having such a wild time that she flips her skirt over her head. Or do think about it, and use it as a guidepost for this next step. Twirl open the 4.5-point stroke, click Transform, and change the Rotate Angle to 180 degrees. Click OK.

5) Make the glass more martini-esque by changing the arrow head.

If you recall, Deke ingeniously turned a stroke into a skirt by using an arrowhead. We need a wider shape to represent a classic martini glass. Click Stroke and change the Arrowhead to the descriptively named Arrow 6. This also has the delightful side-effect of revealing our garnish at the top of the glass (which is really a combination of the arrow shaft and the erstwhile head).

6) Increase the width of the glass.

Seriously, if I were Empress of the Whole World instead of just dekeOnline, that last iteration would be my universal symbol. But Deke and AIGA (whose symbol I referenced) like their martini glasses to hold more liquid. So click Transform, and do the following: set the Horizontal Scale to 45 percent, the Vertical Scale to 90 percent, and the Vertical Move to -64. Actually, with the Preview checkbox turned on, you can play around with these settings until your glass silhouette is just how you like it (making you the Supreme Ruler of Your Graphic World). Click OK when you’re done asserting your benevolent authority.

I actually laid the free AIGA symbol sign for Bar over my graphic to get a general sense of the “canonical” bar symbol, then adjusted based on my own design sense and vast experience with cocktail glasses.

7) Lower the olive down into the glass.

To turn her head into an olive, twirl open the Fill effect at the top of the panel. Change the color to white, and then click Transform. Shrink the olive a bit by setting the Horizontal and Vertical Scale values to 85 percent each. Then lower it into its awaiting gin jacuzzi by changing the Vertical Move to -27 points. Change the Horizontal Move to 17 points to give it that jaunty off-center placement that is regulation for this symbol. Click OK.

8) Use your weapon of choice to delete the toothpick.

I kind of like that there’s a toothpick (the arrow shaft) available so I can grab my olive without getting gin all over my fingers. But, it’s not regulation. There are a few ways to get rid of it, including creating a new white stroke effect, giving it a Butt cap and positioning with the a Vertical Move via Transform so it covers the offending stem.

But I had trouble getting that stroke positioned just right so that the glass rim was straight. You could use Deke’s instructions on how to expand this to path outlines (see the sarcastically numbered four-point list the end of the Man post) and just adjust the path by deleting anchor points and rejoining.

Or you could use the “It’s Friday, take a screenshot and paint over it in Photoshop” approach. Hey, I’m trying to get this post up before Happy Hour! Cheers.

Like I said, I’ve enjoyed spending this week thinking about universal symbols, negative space, and generally ending up feeling a lot more at home in the Appearance panel. For your weekend enjoyment, here are some other (if tangentially) related items:

  • The incomparable Brainpicker (aka Maria Popova) did one of her fabulous visual book explorations on illustrator Noma Bar’s book Negative Space. Love the way the voids become meaningful.
  • The equally enchanting podcast RadioLab did an episode called Bliss which was named after one of their subjects, Charles Bliss, who attempted to create a symbolic language that would increase universal understanding.

Note: the beginning of that Bliss podcast features Norweigian extreme adventurer Aleksander Gamme finding his cache of stored supplies after a 3-month trek to the North Pole and back. His joy is universally evident beyond language barriers, even if the only words you understand are “Cheese Doodles” and “Hallelujah.”

  • Speaking of sign interpretations, remember this awesome dekePod episode on Photoshop & the Visual Communications makeover? Deke in airplane bathrooms with Photoshop, what can go wrong?
  • And if you’d like to see more of this Illustrator Transform Effect picture-creation madness, Deke actually uses transformed strokes and fills to draw a freaking train in Chapter 29 (The Appearance Panel) of his Illustrator CS6 One-on-One: Advanced course. (Not a member of lynda.com? You can sign up for a free week at lynda.com/deke.)

Have a great weekend, dekeOpolitans, filled with your images and beverages of choice.

P.S. Here’s the file for those of you who didn’t spend all freaking week with me and Deke. Don’t forget to extract it from its zip file before you start.


Next entry:Getting Behind It: Deke and the Photoshop Curves Command

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